The summer before I began school at University of Washington Tacoma, Larry and I took an unexpected financial hit. We were in the rental business, mostly by accident, and one rental started having problems in April, 2013. Our tenants, (a woman and her teenage son, whom we loved) were being harassed by the downstairs neighbor. The banging on my tenant’s floor began the minute she got home. It continued as she tried to study (she was working on her Ph.D.) and throughout the evening as her son did his homework.
I did everything right to resolve this issue. I worked with the management company, who encouraged me not to contact the downstairs tenant. I tried on numerous occasions to get in touch with the landlord of that particular unit, but he would never respond, and I worked tirelessly with my own tenant to try to resolve the situation through legal means. Nothing worked. Finally, in sheer frustration, in June of that year(three months before I was supposed to start school), our tenant gave her notice. She was concerned for her teenage son because the harassment had turned into verbal accusations and increasingly included him. She was moving out. Gosh, I was frustrated! Why was it that in the midst of trying to do everything right and play by all the rules, my tenant and I were being punished?
For months, Larry and I tried to rent our unit, but the rental market was soft, and we didn’t have any luck. We finally hired a management company, and still, the unit stood empty. Larry and I talked about postponing my schooling. I considered going to work, instead. I cried. Larry felt bad. Our dream was slipping fast.
We continued to work over the numbers. Larry took on extra hours. We received a check in the mail in the form of a 20% scholarship from the university. It wasn’t a lot, but it would ease the financial burden just enough to allow me to start school. I was so grateful for that reprieve, I cried some more. Only this time, my tears were filled with gratitude to my Heavenly Father. Six months later, the unit was rented. Two small mercies that made all the difference.
One year later, I heard from my previous tenant. She was emailing me for a recommendation. She had taken a year off from school and was now living in Washington DC. Would I be willing to offer her a letter of recommendation to a new landlord? Happily, I agreed. It was in that moment I stepped back and began to see another small mercy. This one wasn’t so obvious and only revealed itself much later and with some reflection.
My previous tenant would’ve moved anyway. But instead of moving in the summer of 2013 when she was experiencing all the harassment, she would’ve moved in the summer of 2014 to go to Washington DC. This would’ve most certainly meant the end of my schooling for a season, because there is no check in the mail this year, and we lost another tenant this summer who left us with a house in shambles and a great deal of debt. I shudder to think of what would’ve happened if both tenants would’ve left at the same time. What I had first considered a disaster turned out to be my saving grace.
With this story fresh in my mind, I’ve been reminded that I don’t believe in coincidences. So, I’ve decided to spend 2015 looking for the small mercies. I’ll keep a journal of these precious gifts from the Lord. I’m going to be sharing some of these experiences here on the blog and also on my Waters of Peace Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waters-of-Peace/334786213304207. I would love it if you’d be willing to share some of your small mercies, too. So, please, consider these lovely but often unseen wonders of your life and share them with us, so our lives can be broadened by what we’re offered. Because, I’m beginning to believe a good life is made of small mercies.